A steaming casserole of plump, juicy mussels with crisp golden fries to dip in their aromatic juices: as legendary pairings go, it’s up there with Antony and Cleopatra or cheese and wine.
We pick the best spots to try Belgium’s favourite bivalves.
With Jacques Brel on the walls and Manneken Pis sweeties with the bill, this cosy, knick-knack filled brasserie is as Belgian as it gets.
Mussels come 30 different ways, including in gueuze or Chimay beer, or flambéed with apple and Calvados.
It’s a tourist favourite, but for good reason: five generations of the Vanlancker family have been wrangling mussels since 1893, so you’re in the safest of hands.
If your initial portion of frites looks a bit undersized, don’t panic – seconds, and even thirds, come as standard.
King Leopold III was a regular customer (opting for sole meunière and a plate of mussels), so you’re in illustrious company in this Brussels institution, all starched napkins and stained glass.
Try escargot-style mussels (oven-roasted with garlic butter), invented here by founder Calixte Veulemans.
The Place Sainte-Catherine is swimming in fish restaurants, but François is a cut above: a restaurant and neighbouring shop where locals pick up the freshest fish.
It’s a family affair. The current owner’s great-grandparents started out serving mussels – washed in a bathtub – and hand-cut fries.
Located in the beautiful 19th century Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert shopping arcade, the Taverne du Passage, virtually unchanged since it opened in 1928, is a lovely spot for a treat: white-coated waiters serve Belgian classics, including perfect moules marinières, in a beautiful Art Deco room.
Slightly out of the way but well worth the detour, Friture René isn’t, as the name suggests, a frite joint, but a lovely traditional brasserie with inspired modern touches.
It’s the spot to try moules parquées, mussels served raw with mustard vinaigrette.
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